The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a 90-day lease extension Nov. 20 for the proposed Boat Central project in Marina del Rey that had been continued from the Nov. 13 meeting.
The 90-day extension was approved rather than an extension of up to 21 months that had been requested for a second extension and modification to the lease option agreement for the Boat Central project on Parcels 52 and GG.
The 90-day approval will require the project developer to obtain entitlements and complete the environmental impact report (EIR) process in a much shorter period of time.
The original request would have allowed for an extension of up to 21 months to complete the EIR certification for a planned boat storage development on the parcels, and for the Boat Central applicant to negotiate a new option agreement and lease agreement with the county.
After hearing public comment on the project at their Nov. 13 meeting, the supervisors voted to continue the item until the Nov. 20 meeting.
The proposed project site is at Dock 52, 13483 Fiji Way, near the public launch ramp, and is comprised of land and water areas. The general partners of Boat Central, L.P. are MDR Boat Central, LLC, Pacific Marina Development, Inc. (principals Jeff Pence and Tom Hogan), and Almar Marinas, LLC.
According to a letter to the supervisors from the director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, Santos Kreimann, the second extension was requested because Boat Central was unable to acquire the entitlements for the proposed project by the original end date of the option, Nov. 22, 2009.
“Due to intervening court decisions, the county was and continues to be, restricted from entering into a new option agreement pending compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), including certification of the EIR for the project,” states the letter.
“By agreement of the supervisors on Nov. 10, 2009, the extension of the option was granted for up to 36 months, which is now scheduled to expire on Nov. 22, 2012, to provide additional time for CEQA compliance, completion of the entitlement process for the project, and the negotiation of a new option and lease agreement. During the first extension period, Parcels 52 and GG received a change in the land use designation as part of the Local Coastal Program (LCP) amendment, and the Department of Regional Planning prepared an EIR for the project. Due to the complexity of the project, the EIR process has taken longer than anticipated and as a result, Boat Central will not be in a position to submit its request for a new option and lease agreement by Nov. 22, 2012,” according to the director’s letter.
The Department of Regional Planning has scheduled a tentative Regional Planning Commission hearing date of Jan. 23 to consider both the EIR and the landside coastal development permit for the project. Boat Central has requested an additional extension for completion of the CEQA process, including consideration of the certification of the EIR, and negotiation of the terms of a new option agreement and lease agreement.
The letter states that in consideration for the proposed additional extension not to exceed 21 months, Boat Central has agreed to pay the county a total amount of up to $75,000, payable as follows: $20,000 upon signing of the agreement, which provides for a nine-month extension to Aug. 22, 2013; $25,000 for an additional six-month extension; and $30,000 for a final six-month extension. The final two six-month extensions are conditioned upon the director’s determination that Boat Central has diligently pursued completion of the EIR certification process, receipt of remaining entitlements, and negotiation of a new option agreement and lease agreement. “In no event shall the total extension period extend beyond Aug. 22, 2014,” the letter continues.
On May 22, 2007, the supervisors had granted an option to facilitate redevelopment of the parcels. The proposed project would create additional boat storage spaces by utilizing a vertical storage method. The proposed storage building contains approximately 47,084 square feet of space, is 70 feet high, and partially extends over the water (97 feet on the west side and 45 feet on the east side), and plans to accommodate between 346 to 367 boats, depending on size, with 28 boat trailers. Additional outside storage space would be included for 30 mast-up sailboats and there will be no less than 131 parking spaces.
The proposed project would accommodate the number and types of boats presently in dry storage at the Parcel 77 surface storage lot, which would be displaced when that parcel is redeveloped. It would also provide significant additional capacity for boats in wet slips or kept outside of the Marina, according to county officials. In addition to boat storage, the project would include a 3,070-square foot office/lobby area, a 1,600-square foot maintenance facility, a 3,265-square foot sheriff boatwright facility with a 2,200-square foot yard area, and three dedicated public wash-down sapces.
At the July 2007 Marina del Rey Design Control Board meeting, chair Susan Cloke, vice chair Peter Phinney and board member David Abelar questioned whether the project could by moved ahead without their approval, and asked if there was a way to get the Department of Regional Planning to deny the project or remand it to the Design Control Board. They were told by county counsel that while the project could be disapproved by the department, or the developer could be asked to revise it, the applicant still had the right to appeal that decision to the Board of Supervisors.
Cloke claimed at that time, “This project violates the public trust and is the most egregious proposal.” She added that the design board had voted to protect the water, and she “couldn’t believe there was no other alternative to a dry-stack storage.”
Currently, the waterside uses of the project include a dock utilized by charter fishing tours, dining and other types of cruises. At the public hearing on the draft EIR in February, several business owners claimed that this project would negatively impact their businesses. At that time, Greg Schem, the lessee of the Boat Yard, adjacent to the proposed Boat Central, said he agreed that dry-stack storage was needed, but he was concerned about the over-the-water design. He said that his slip tenants would be losing their views and quiet enjoyment of the Marina, with the proposed facility as close as 65 feet to their vessels, and expressed concern that he would potentially lose tenants.
“The tourism and hospitality community remains concerned about two related issues: how commercial charters, which are essential to tourism in Marina del Rey, are be accommodated if they are displaced by the Boat Central project, and when will Fisherman’s Village ever be refreshed and renovated,” said Beverly Moore, Executive Director, Marina del Rey Convention & Visitors Bureau.
One of those business owners is Daniel Ginzburg, the owner of FantaSea Yachts, which specializes in passenger party boats, celebrations of weddings, anniversaries and college events, and offers dinner cruises. Ginzburg told the supervisors that his father had started the business in 1980, and that he had grown up working in the business, which has approximately 50 employees, many of whom have worked there for 10 to 15 years, and some even longer.
“The Boat Central project would eliminate a vital visitor-serving, commercial dock and public parking facility and instead turn it into a multi-level, long-term storage facility for out-of-water boats,” said Ginzburg. “Last year, FantaSea Yachts and the fishing boat fleet that also uses the dock, had more than 50,000 visitors boarding the boats.
“Dock 52 is the commercial boating gateway to Marina del Rey, the primary commercial dock, and the only such dock on the non-residential side of Marina del Rey. Public parking is also scheduled for elimination as part of this project, which affects visitors to Fisherman’s Village and those enjoying coastal bike rides.”
Rick Oefinger, owner of Marina del Rey Sportsfishing, told The Argonaut that his business has been located at Dock 52 for 34 years. He said his primary concern is the need for adequate parking for fishermen, and that hasn’t been addressed by the county. He also questioned if tourists and visitors would want to be in close proximity to fishermen, their fish catches, and their fishing equipment on a warm day in August if the business had to relocate to Fisherman’s Village.
Capt. Alex Balian, owner of Paradise Bound Yacht Charters, has been operating the charter for 22 years. He expressed concern over the relocation of his and other commercial boats, potentially to Fisherman’s Village, saying that issue had not been addressed by the county. He argued this project would have a very significant impact on the charter businesses in the Marina.
Carol Baker, spokeswoman for the Department of Beaches and Harbors, told The Argonaut, “As Fisherman’s Village has yet to be developed, charter operators do not believe that location can adequately accommodate all charter operations simultaneously, with perceived parking insufficiency as a significant concern. DBH is currently looking at other options.”
Baker said that the options would all be interim measures to accommodate and support charter operations until Fisherman’s Village is redeveloped. They include:
Replacing the dock at Parcel 55 (old fuel dock) for use by charter operators;
Potentially using part of the docks at Parcel 77 (next to Burton Chace Park) to accommodate at least one operator, with associated parking along Mindanao Way; and
Looking at ways to increase the parking capacity at Fisherman’s Village. §